World-Wide Web


World-Wide Web (also called WWW or W3) is a hypertext-based information system. Any word in a hypertext document can be specified as a pointer to a different hypertext document where more information pertaining to that word can be found. The reader can open the second document by selecting the word (using different methods depending on the interface; in a mouse based system, a user would probably place the mouse over the word and click the mouse button); only the part of the linked document which contains relevant information will be displayed.

The second document may itself contain links to further documents. The reader need not know where the referenced documents are, because they will be obtained and presented as they are needed.

World-Wide Web uses hypertext over the Internet: the linked documents may be located at different Internet sites. WWW can handle different text formats and different methods of organizing information.

The World-Wide Web also provides access to many of the other tools described in this guide, and is becoming widely used as the major means of access to Internet resources.

Special index documents have been created in the WWW information space and these can be searched for given keyword(s). The result is a new document which contains links to documents selected from the index.

If you were reading this document on a hypertext system, instead of this all too short explanation about hypertext, you would have a selectable pointer to a complete hypertext information web with examples and more pointers to other definitions. For instance, in the first document you might read:

The WorldWideWeb (W3) is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge. It is an initiative started at "CERN", now with many participants. It has a body of software, and a set of protocols and conventions. W3 uses "hypertext" and multimedia techniques to make the web easy for anyone to roam browse, and contribute to.

Selecting hypertext would display the following explanation for you:


Hypertext is text which is not constrained to be linear. Hypertext is text which contains "links" to other texts. The term was coined by "Ted Nelson" around 1965 (see "History").

HyperMedia is a term used for hypertext which is not constrained to be text: it can include graphics, video and "sound", for example. Apparently Ted Nelson was the first to use this term too.

Then you could learn more about links and Ted Nelson. The links in WWW are not confined to text only, so the term hypermedia is more accurate - for example, the link to Ted Nelson might point to a file containing a picture of Ted Nelson. The picture would be displayed on your screen, if your computer had a suitable screen and an image viewer.

Who can use WORLD-WIDE WEB?

You must be on the international TCP/IP network (the Internet) in order to use a client on your computer to access WWW. If you are on the Internet, but don't have a WWW client on your computer, you can still enter the World-Wide Web because several sites offer public interactive access to WWW clients (see the Remote clients section under How to get to World-Wide Web below).

If you have e-mail access only, or if you are not on the Internet, then you can not fully exploit the vast potential of WWW. However, a mail-robot is available at the address: which gives e-mail access to WWW-accessible files. (see E-mail access section under How to get to World-Wide Web below).

How to get to WORLD-WIDE WEB

Users access the World-Wide Web facilities via a client called a browser, which provides transparent access to the WWW servers. If a local WWW client is not available on your computer, you may use a client at a remote site: this can be an easy way to start using WWW.

Local clients

Use of a local client is encouraged since it will provide better performance and better response time than a remote client.

Public domain clients for accessing WWW servers are available for: Macintosh, MS-DOS, VMS, VM/CMS, MVS, NeXT, Unix, X-Windows. All these platforms support a simple line mode browser. In addition, graphical clients are available for: Macintosh, Windows, X-Windows, NeXT and Unix. See the list of freely available client software in Appendix A.

Remote clients

To access a remote WWW client, telnet to the client site. If you are new to WWW, you should telnet to No login is needed for this, and you will immediately enter the WWW line mode browser.

Some publicly accessible clients have been locally developed. Most remote clients are at sites with WWW servers holding information on specific areas. Telnet to the client site, and at the login: prompt enter www; no password is needed. The following remote client sites are available:

|                                                                  |
|  Site                   Country          Server Specialization   |
|                                                                  |
|          Finland                                  |
|         Israel              Environment          |
|           Switzerland (CERN)  High-energy physics  |
|  USA                 Law                  |
|       USA                 History              |
|           USA                                      |
Using CERN as the entry point you will find information about WWW itself, with an overview of the Web and a catalogue of the databases sorted by subject.

E-mail access

You can obtain WWW files via mail to using a SEND command. The SEND command returns the document with the given WWW address, subject to certain restrictions. Hypertext documents are formatted to 72 character width, with links numbered. A separate list at the end of the file gives the document-addresses of the related documents. A good file to start with would be:

Note that, despite the name listserv in the address of this mailrobot, it is not a LISTSERV server. A note of caution from the WWW developers and maintainers: As the robot gives potential mail access to a *vast* amount of information, we must emphasise that the service should not be abused.

Examples of appropriate use would be:

Examples of INappropriate use would be:

There is currently a 1000 line limit on any returned file. We don't want to overload other people's mail relays or our server. We reserve the right to withdraw the service at any time. We are currently monitoring all use of the server, so your reading will not initially enjoy privacy.


The W3 team at CERN (


The line mode browser:

The line mode browser is a simple user interface: references are shown as a number in square brackets next to each referenced word. Type the number and hit the RETURN key to follow a reference. For example, here is the beginning of the Subject Catalogue on the CERN server:

The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Subject Catalogue


This is a distributed subject catalogue. See also arrangement by service type[1], and other subject catalogues of network information[2].

Mail to maintainers of the specified subject or to add pointers to this list, or if you would like to contribute to administration of a subject area.

See also how to put your data on the web[3]

To access WWW with the line mode browser, type: www. The default first document will appear on your screen. From this point, you should be able to navigate through the WWW universe by reading the text and following the instructions at the bottom of the screen. If you want to start with a document other than the default, or if you want to change some other aspect of the usual interaction, a number of command line parameters and options are available. The full format of the www command to invoke the line mode browser is:

|  |
|  www  [options] [docaddress] [keyword>]  |
|  |

where: docaddress is the hypertext address of the document at which you want to start browsing. keyword the supplied keyword(s) are used to query the index specified by docaddress. A list of matching entries is displayed. Multiple keywords are separated by blanks.

Options are:

The following commands are available when using a line mode browser either as a local client or as a remote client. Some are disabled when not applicable (e.g. Find is enabled only when the current document is an index). CAPITAL letters indicate acceptable abbreviation; angle brackets ([]) indicate an optional parameter.

Extra command available on Unix versions only:

Other interfaces:

When using a graphical interface, you access the WWW functions by pressing mouse buttons. Words are highlighted or underlined to indicate where a link exists. To follow a link, click on the word.

The most famous graphical interface is Mosaic, which is the state-of-the-art point and click interface. As a WWW browser, Mosaic displays images and plays sounds, with the help of local utilities. The navigation within the web is intuitive and additional features (mailing feedback, customizing, etc.) are easy to use. Mosaic also provides an interface to the other information systems (WAIS, Gopher, etc.) thus giving access to all Internet resources from a single interface. Implementations for Macintosh, MS-Windows and X-Windows are available for anonymous FTP from in the directory /Web.

A good alternative for users without a graphical environment is Lynx. Lynx is a full screen browser for WWW using arrows and tab keys, cursor addressing and highlighted or numbered links to navigate within the web. Lynx has no image or sound capabilities: any images or sounds are replaced by a tag at display time and the corresponding files can be retrieved separately. Unlike the line mode browser, documents containing embedded images or enhanced document formats (e.g. formulaires) are handled properly by Lynx. A demonstration version of Lynx is available using Telnet to (login as www). Implementations for various Unix flavors and for VMS are available for anonymous FTP from in the directory /pub/WWW/lynx.


WWW gives you access to an information universe. Let's say you want to know how many film versions of The Three Musketeers have been made. You browse The WWW Virtual Library and select Movies:


Cardiff's Movie Database Browser.

CARDIFF'S MOVIE DATABASE BROWSER. UK Postal Quiz [1] There's now a way to set permanent[2] links to specific names and titles. Movie title substring searching.[3] (for non-forms browsers) Movie people substring searching.[4] (for non-forms browsers) Lookup titles by genre.[5] (uses plot summary info. 652 titles so far, many more on the way) List my votes[6]. If you've voted for movies, your votes are here. On this day in history..[7](who was born and who died) The rec.arts.movies top 40 films[8] and bottom 40 films.[9] Top 20[10]s of busy people. Famous marriages.[11] 1-18, Up, for more, Quit, or Help: 3

You select Movie titles, and then type three musketeers as keywords:

Movie Info (27/27)
Example, to search for movies with the word ``alien'' in their title, type ``alien''.

This will return details on several movies, including Aliens Note: if the title begins with A or The, leave it out. If you're determined to include it, then put ', A' or ', The' at the end of the of the substring e.g. Enforcer, The Gauntlet, The Searching is case insensitive. [1] Rob.H[2] FIND , 1-2, Back, Up, Quit, or Help: three musketeers ----------------------------------------------------------------- You find that there have been seven film versions of the story: ----------------------------------------------------------------- Movie Info TITLE SUBSTRINGS. Here are the results from the search for three musketeers Three Musketeers, The (1921)[1] Three Musketeers, The (1933)[2] Three Musketeers, The (1935)[3] Three Musketeers, The (1939)[4] Guide to Network Resource Tools page 23 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Three Musketeers, The (1948)[5] Three Musketeers, The (1974)[6] Three Musketeers, The (1993)[7] I haven't found the item you wanted ?, why ?[8] Note titles in quotes (") are TV series. [9] Rob.H[10] FIND , 1-10, Back, Up, Quit, or Help: 1 ----------------------------------------------------------------- You decide to look for more information on the 1921 version: ----------------------------------------------------------------- Movie Info MOVIE DETAILS. THREE MUSKETEERS, THE (1921) 1921 Cast Leon Barry[1] ......Athos Charles Belcher[2] ......Bernajoux Nigel De Brulier[3] ......Cardinal Richelieu Marguerite De La Motte[4] ......Constance Bonacieux Douglas Fairbanks[5] ......D'Artagnan Sidney Franklin[6] ......Monsieur Bonacieux Thomas Holding[7] ......Duke of Buckingham Boyd Irwin[8] ......Comte de Rochefort Barbara La Marr[9] ......Milady de Winter Mary MacLaren[10] ......Queen Anne of Austria Adolphe Menjou[11] ......Louis XIII Eugene Pallette[12] ......Aramis Lon Poff[13] ......Father Joseph Willis Robards[14] ......Captain de Treville George Siegmann[15] ......Porthos Charles Stevens[16] ......Planchet 1-37, Back, Up, for more, Quit, or Help: 11 -----------------------------------------------------------------

You're hooked! You decide to look for more information on Adolphe Menjou, search more titles, find Oscar winners, etc.

Learning more about WORLD-WIDE WEB

World-Wide Web is being developed at CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory) by the World-Wide Web team led by Tim Berners-Lee. Bug reports, comments, suggestions, etc. should be mailed to:

On-line documentation is available from, for anonymous FTP or using the remote WWW client.

Mailing lists:
To subscribe send a mail to
Usenet newsgroup: comp.infosystems.www

Mosaic is being developed at NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications), Urbana Champain, Illinois, by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. Bug reports, comments, suggestions, etc. should be mailed to: On-line documentation is available from, for anonymous FTP, or from, using a WWW client.

Lynx is being developed at the University of Kansas by Lou Montulli. On-line documentation is available from, for anonymous FTP, or from, using a WWW client.

Netscape, however, is the clear winner a year or more after this was written. It is the new standard that everyone is forced to write for and has made its inventor the youngest new billionaire for making it accessible to almost everyone. Isn't it nice to know that you don't have to know very much of this FAQ to use the WWW today?